Friday, July 17, 2009


I was listening to the car radio as usual with my 'peripheral hearing'. To my amusement, it was a Mandarin-language broadcast of rather soppy (and clichéd) content.

There was a woman who was obviously telling a man some home truths: "If I love you, I love you because I love you and not because you're wealthy; if I don't love you, I don't love you because I don't love you, even if you're wealthy. But I don't love you because in the depths of your heart all you care about is money and not love."

It's this kind of thing which leads me to believe that humans are basically irrational, and therefore when we invent things like science and mathematics and logic and so on, it's a sort of attempt to deny that fact. When we say 'human' we imply subjective and irrational; when we say 'mathematical' or 'scientific', we imply objective and rational.

A moment's reflection should disabuse you of these pretensions to rationality. Mathematics is only objective within the terms it has defined for itself; basically it says, "Here are my rules, and if we all play by my rules, I will always win." Science is less than that, because it says, "I assert the universe can make sense, now let's observe it and figure out what that sense is; I don't know what the rules are, but I am going to assume that all the games in the universe follow the same basic rules."

When humans attempt to use mathematics and science to solve problems, they can only solve the simple ones. That's OK, because if you build complex-looking problems out of simple ones, you can solve pretty complex-looking ones. It's like saying proteins are very complex molecules, and then asking someone to compare the molecular structure of haemoglobin to that of DNA, and then to that of a champagne diamond.

Then you take all that knowledge about molecular entities and say, "Yes, here is a cure for human stupidity, venality, and intransigence." Haha, so funny.

That's what I like about random radio shows. They have their own logic and it's not a very consistent one, but it shows human thinking. It's kind of radio-logical; you can use it to look into the human condition. In that sense, I suppose I can call myself a diagnostic radiologist...

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